Research

INFN Cagliari researchers working at Cagliari2020 project in building and characterizing the stations. From the left to the right: Mauro Aresti, Filippo Argiolas, Luigi La Delfa

Technological development and research in the field of fundamental physics translates, within the Cagliari2020 project, into the technological transfer of the skills developed and acquired by researchers in large particle physics experiments, in particular in research conducted at CERN in Geneva.

INFN research within the Cagliari2020 project focuses on two specific objectives:
– creation of a data acquisition system for the detection and monitoring of physical and chemical-physical parameters of the air;
– development of specific tools for the integration of environmental data acquisition on cloud platforms.

In order to measure and monitor environmental parameters such as the concentration of particular polluting molecules in the air or physical characteristics such as temperature and pressure, it is necessary to develop functional and practical data acquisition systems.
How to do it? By means of stations. The stations consist of metallic or plastic boxes containing sensors to monitor and measure specific physical parameters. The measurements are then read by a computer unit installed in the station and stored in it.
The data are then taken from the stations through physical media or are sent (generally via wi-fi) to an external unit that processes and transforms the electrical signals into useful information for reading and studying the desired parameters.
The biggest difficulty consists in equipping the stations with high quality sensors and in managing the large amount of data obtained during the measurements. Indeed, the higher is the quality of the sensors and technologies used to implement the stations, the higher is their cost.

One of the biggest challenges of the Cagliari2020 project is to build stations equipped with low cost but good quality sensors that interface with a high quality technological infrastructuresFor this reason, INFN IT skills become of fundamental importance: the choice of sensors with high sensitivity must go hand in hand with the implementation of mathematical models for the extraction of the information necessary to achieve the objectives of the project. Another challenge to face off is to collect, store the large amount of data recorded by the stations and make available them to researchers. In order to do so, cloud resources has to be used. 

How a fixed station is made and assembled: an overview on sensors

The system designed for the project will allow to have low construction costs but at the same time to have performances comparable with stations equipped with more advanced and expensive instrumentation. In this way, stations will cover an extended part of Cagliari city improving the quantity and quality of monitoring measurements.  

The data acquisition system

The data acquisition system of the Cagliari2020 project consists in the construction of three different types of stations for the detection of environmental parameters: fixed stations, mobile stations and aerial mobile stations.
Fixed stations will be installed in specific points of the city and will allow to conduct in loco measurement and monitoring of all environmental parameters required by the project.
The mobile stations, true innovation in the field, will allow to perform real time measurements and monitoring of the environmental parameters throughout the city. They will be placed on buses of public transport, taxies or selected private cars. They will provide data from different points of the city, allowing researchers to build a complete environmental map of the city.
Aerial mobile stations will work similarly to terrestrial stations. They will be installed on drones flying over the city. 

Stations will be described in this section.

 

The cloud 

From an IT point of view, Cagliari2020 project presents itself as a social application with a remarkable production of raw data to be stored, processed over time and analyzed to produce new information.
Biig efforts are concentrated in the development of specific tools for the integration and management of the data stored and sent by the stations. In order to do so, it is necessary to have an advanced IT infrastructure, the cloud.
The cloud represents a series of data and services always accessible from any device and in any place. An internet connection is necessary to access to all the cloud services. 

In Cagliari2020 project, the cloud will work as follows: the raw data recorded by the stations are constantly sent to one or more external servers where they are stored and processed. This is a service typically offered by specific companies with precise costs. On these external units, a software is installed to clean data from the background, i.e. the set of information not relevant for the purposes of the studies.
Then, researchers could access to the cloud from anywhere and at any time to study and analyze data or build predictive models on evolution of traffic and air quality in the city.

The Cagliari section of the INFN is involved in the development and management of the software responsible for all the operations on the cloud.

More information on the cloud in this section.